For the First Time in 70 Years the UK Has a King. Here’s What Happens Next.

Normal TV programming stops, the UK prepares for its biggest ever state funeral, and the national anthem changes.
queen elizabeth dies what happens next
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles during the State Opening of Parliament in 2019. Photo: Paul Edwards - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II has died aged 96, ending a reign of 70 years and beginning a period of national mourning in the UK.

HRH Prince Charles has automatically become His Majesty after being history’s longest-serving heir apparent. An accession council now convenes within 24 hours of her death at St James’ Palace, where her death is formally proclaimed and where the successor to the throne is announced. 


Charles will be asked to swear loyalty to Parliament and the Church of England. Shortly afterwards Parliament will be recalled, where the Houses will in turn be asked to swear allegiance to him. 

The BBC will suspend other programming to focus on coverage of her death, and comedy programming will be completely scrapped for the whole mourning period. The London Stock Exchange will also close for a short period.

As the Queen has passed at Balmoral, it is expected that the neighbouring palace of Holyroodhouse and St Giles’ Cathedral will become focal points for the public and journalists until she is moved to London on the Royal Train down the east coast.

Ten days after her death there will be a state funeral, the biggest ever seen in the UK, which will take place at Westminster Abbey. She will be buried alongside Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

54 countries, almost all of which were formerly under British rule, make up the Commonwealth, but the Queen has been head of state in 15 of them: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu, in addition to the UK.

In 2018 the Queen announced that her oldest son would be the next Head of the Commonwealth, which is not necessarily a hereditary role.